Thursday, November 14, 2013

Cereal Killers

My colleagues and I give dozens of art/science talks to audiences ranging from 1st graders to senior citizens. They seem to enjoy stories about diving under the ice, watching penguins play, and how we go to the bathroom when it's minus 20. But when it gets to the science, do they really understand the important implications of carnivorous single-celled organisms? Don't ask me where the thought came from, but perhaps a play on words, together with an interesting piece of "art," would help. Ergo, I sat down to illustrate a cereal killer foram. First step: buy a bunch of cereal and resist the temptation to eat it all in one sitting. (I love cereal!)

Preparing the palette
I have scads of Japanese rice paper left over from the spitball amoeba project. Might as well adorn it with rice crispy cereal (plus other cerealicious shapes, sizes, and colors). NOTE: I consulted the literature and concluded that this is the first time a foraminiferan collage has been made out of cereal. I hope it becomes a new movement ...

Moving breakfast around
   Artist friends often mention the satisfaction it brings to "push around paint." I fully understand what they mean. It's also rewarding to squirt around glue, and brush around cereal. Lots of fun!
The cereal killer with metazoan prey - just like in nature! (Well, artistic license with the bugs.)
In the end, I depicted Notodendrodes antarctikos with plastic metazoans adorning its branches. It's not accurate, of course, but it was fun to make and serves to illustrate the concept: single-celled carnivores littering the seafloor, eating small invertebrates. Sometimes silly examples can spawn serious discussion that lay audiences can grab hold of and tear apart.

Just like a Notodendrodes with a juvenile starfish. Or me with five boxes of yummy cereal to eat!

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